BOBTAIL: A BROADER FORM OF LIABILITY COVERAGE: Bobtail insurance protects you from bodily injury and property damage liability accidents while operating your semi-truck during those times when you’re not hauling a trailer or other load. For example, if you drop off a load in Grand Rapids and drive to Kalamazoo to pick up your next load, bobtail insurance will cover you for that portion of the trip. Bobtail insurance coverage also kicks in when you drive home in your tractor after dropping off a load and the trailer.
Bobtail insurance will not provide coverage if you’re hauling any type of trailer. Using your tractor for personal use, like picking your kid up from school, is fine as long as you are completely un-hooked from any trailer.
NON-TRUCKING LIABILITY: THE COURTS HAVE SPOKEN: The creation and implementation of non-trucking liability insurance by the insurance companies was meant to clarify when a motor carrier’s responsibility to provide liability coverage to owner-operators begins and ends. Non-trucking liability insurance protects you from bodily injury and property damage liability accidents that occur when you’re using your semi-truck for personal use. Picking your kid up from school, going to the grocery store, out to dinner, to the movies or picking up a load of lumber for your new shed are all covered.
While non-trucking liability insurance covers your personal use of the semi, the federal and state courts have clarified the definition of personal use. For example, running an errand before driving home after dropping your load may not considered personal use and may not be be covered by non-trucking liability insurance. Or, if your dispatcher tells you to wait 4 hours in Chicago after you have dropped a load and while your next load is prepared and you get into an accident on your way grab a bite to eat. This example also illustrates when non-trucking liability will not cover. In these cases, the courts have determined that the motor carrier owes you a ride home in your tractor or considers you still under dispatch when you grab a bite to eat between loads. The primary liability coverage your motor carrier provides is typically responsible for these types of accident scenarios. Trips that involve you taking your semi-truck to a garage for servicing may also not be covered. The court decided that in this particular scenario, the motor carrier may be responsible if you were fulfilling the maintenance terms of your lease agreement with the motor carrier.
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